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Comment Re:Might be illegal (Score 1) 337

That's pretty much the definition of a contract. Consideration (e.g. money) in exchange for service. If the contract has a clause saying the seller can refund the deposit and cancel the order, then the buyer agreed to that and too bad.

However, there is also civil law regarding business - the Uniform Commercial Code in the USA. That law preempts contract terms. The question then becomes, does the UCC forbid those kind of clauses. A little research leads me to believe it does not. That would make sense since companies like Gamestop cancel pre-orders all the time.

Given all that, Tesla are within their rights to say, "too bad, here's your money back".

Comment Re:Can we stop this ? (Score 1) 155

NASA Ames had an interesting concept for that, which is not only to use the large amount of water a long-duration mission would need as shielding, but to use the "waste products" of the astronauts to replace that shielding as the water was lost (extremely hard to avoid small losses even with really good recycling tech).

Getting the mass off Earth is expensive but not difficult per se. Re-usable launchers will change that game, because the amount of mass per launch is flexible, unlike launching a giant space station. Water's water, whether it takes 15 launches or 17 isn't that big a deal.

Comment Re:Private companies aren't taking us to Mars (Score 1) 155

I think that's an unfair characterisation of what SpaceX has done/is doing.

Landing an intact first stage after it was travelling 6,000mph the other direction is pretty groundbreaking. Propulsive landing of a space capsule for re-use is pretty major too. That one's only partially demonstrated, but it's not the blocker in Dragon 2 progress and the work on Falcon 9 re-use feeds into it as well.

Then there's the Raptor engine, most of the way through the development with some components already tested to a high degree. A full-flow gas-gas staged combustion engine and a large one at that. No-one's built an engine like that before. The Russians had the RD-270, which does most of this (and was 3x the thrust, which is very impressive indeed) but not with cryogenic propellants nor having them be fully gaseous when they drive the turbopumps. Mastering all the technologies for that is a big deal.

Comment Re:I don't understand the big deal (Score 2) 83

These are not patient-portable devices. They attach to an IV pole and control delivery of whatever drug is fed from the bag. They're modular, so they get mixed and matched from pole to pole (and presumably some stash on the ward) as necessary. They are not isolated; they communicate with other systems on the ward so that, for example, the nurse can come by and check on the patient when the bag is empty.

Getting access to one of these wouldn't necessarily be that hard. Go to the ER with something that will get them to give you IV fluid and you'll find yourself left alone with one of these pumps. Install a worm and over time you'll have a lot of devices at your command and perhaps have gathered a lot of information into the bargain.

Comment Re:Write-only code. (Score 1) 757

I'm not a Linux programmer so I may be out of date on this, but there isn't or wasn't a single C++ ABI on Linux between the various compilers. If the kernel used C++ for those interfaces it would potentially require that the kernal and all kernel modules were compiled with the same toolchain. Rolling their own implementation means the ABI is compatible across all the different compilers and compiler version with a side benefit of being able to write kernel modules in languages other than C/C++.

Comment Re:This sounds silly ... (Score 1) 411

I read the paper and their premise seems to be that MINSETs can be browsable/searchable and good enough to let programmers figure out whether a given function is worth investigating further. Basically they're a better replacement for text search and class browsing.

I'm skeptical about that, especially looking at their examples, but I can't dismiss it outright. I think it might interact in a favourable way with metaprogramming techniques, whether C++ templates or Lisp macros, but that's just speculation.

Comment Re:wow (Score 1) 571

Can you explain in more detail? It wasn't clear to me how this problem was handled. I did a little research and learned that the fast neutrons cause neutron activation, creating often long-lived radioactive isotopes of what they hit - which will generally be the reactor containment walls.

He did mention breeding tritium via lithium, so is the idea to plate the inner walls of the reactor with lithium? In that case, does the amount of tritium generated balance with the amount consumed? Or, does that just naturally reach equilibrium?

In any case, I think all of this is only alluded to in the video. If you have more insight, I think it would be useful to share it.

Comment Plain old DOS (Score 1) 334

Build them a small form factor PC. Don't connect the USB ports and don't provide an optical drive. Install FreeDOS, a basic dialup TCP/IP stack, an email client and a web browser. I'd also set it up to decompress and restore everything from a read-only partition every single time they boot, ideally before processing config files. If there isn't already a way to do this, FreeDOS does have source available, so you could modify that.

Notes on DOS email and web clients:
http://www.tokyopc.org/newslet...
http://www.compmiscellanea.com...

Comment Re:What about the lunch ladies? (Score 1) 282

They cover that in the full memo:

Q: Why do some supplier employees not take breaks when others do?

A: There are some business functions and processes that have been fully outsourced (Outsourcing), such as cafeteria services, landscaping and call centers. These Outsourcing engagements are limited, require a certain set of criteria be met and must go through a rigorous approval process.

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